Doctorow, Amis and Atwood discuss America's Global Politics


This year's PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature brought roughly 100 writers from 25 countries to New York. One of the most fascinating talks was with writers E.L. Doctorow (Homer & Langley, Ragtime), Margaret Atwood (The Blind Assassin, Year of the Flood) and Martin Amis (Money, The Pregnant Widow) regarding America and its role in global politics, something the Sunday prior each had written essays for The Times. The talk was hosted by New York Times chief film critic and recent recipient of Samuel L Jacksons wrath, A.O. Scott. Atwood on being a smart, but not necessarily an intellectual, politician: "What you probably want is somebody who's got some political smarts or somebody who's at least smart enough to avoid sinking the entire fortune of a country in some really ill-advised, unnecessary war."

Amis, responding to Atwood's point: "And anti-intellectualism exists in many English-speaking countries, but the American variant is worship of stupidity."

Atwood: "And that's a different thing."

Amis: "It is an entirely different thing."